a few words on 'sustainability'

by Till Reiter

For us, "sustainability" is not an annoying added extra that must be fulfilled in order to indulge current tastes, but our core programme. This is deeply rooted in our respect for creation and in our basic values of efficiency and economy - even in regard to things that do not belong to us, or to us alone.

The best way to do business sustainably is to create things that last.

This applies not only to our products, but also to our production facilities, stores, workplace, business relationship etc. The current economic circumstances - very high raw material and energy prices, far too high secondary labour costs - do not make "sustainability" easy, but we act out of conviction and as long as our customers support us in doing so, we will not deviate from it. For example, we have not used plastic packaging for decades, opting instead for recycled cardboard packaging. Not in a contemporary, eco-friendly "look how organic I am" shade of brown, but in an elegantly designed grey carton that consciously also encourages its re-use. We process almost only European raw materials, not only because of the short transport routes, but also because of the way the animals are kept. We pay attention to the repairability of our products, the recyclability of our materials and conduct proper energy and waste management in our factories.

But these are secondary issues. What is really essential is that, contrary to all globalisation trends, we manufacture right in the middle of Europe, offering many people good jobs here and giving the once abandoned historical estate of Süßenbrunn a new lease of life. Which was also a kind of recycling. From an ecological point of view, the fashion industry is one of the  worst culprits for creating rubbish, but less because of questionable materials, processes or emissions, and more because of the deliberately short-lived nature of the products, which are only designed with a short lifespan. As a result, enormous quantities of 'passé' goods end up in the trash every year, be it because of the weariness of customers or the dispositions of retailers and manufacturers. To avoid this, it doesn’t help if you create "sustainable fashion", e.g. by using "natural" materials. Instead, one has to resolve the contradiction between fashion and consistency. Our approach is therefore to choose elements of trends that have a timeless longevity, and therefore to be "modern" rather than "fashionable". 

The Ludwig Reiter Shoemanufactory on Süßenbrunn Manor in Vienna, Austria.